Aaron Rodgers spent the offseason embroiled in a rumor-filled spat with the Green Bay Packers about his future with the club. The disagreement ended with his return for training camp, a bluntly honest press conference about his feelings, and a delay on a call on his future employment into 2022.
The reigning AP NFL Most Valuable Player told Peter King for his Football Morning in America column that last training camp he assumed 2020 was his final ride in Green Bay.
"Last year at this time, I was looking at the season as my last year in Green Bay," Rodgers told King.
The setting of that camp was much different. The Packers had just traded up to draft Jordan Love in April to eventually take the reins from Rodgers. The veteran QB clearly felt slighted and, given the accelerated rate young QBs play in today's game, assumed the Packers would make a move sooner rather than later.
Having no preseason last year for Love to show any growth and watching Rodgers dice up the NFL set up an offseason in which Green Bay brass had no plans to part with the 37-year-old QB.
A thoughtful, calm, confident Rodgers continued his Zen approach to the situation. He's spent the year controlling what he can control -- which included skipping the entire offseason and throwing side-shade at the front office -- while not getting overly worked up about what is out of his control.
"I mean, the people I have to deal with every day is the staff, my teammates," Rodgers told King. "I have a really good relationship with the staff. Once you get into the football season, those are the most important relationships because you're talking with them every day. I've always had a good relationship with Matt when it comes to play-calling and installs and stuff I like. Then obviously having [offensive coordinator Nathaniel] Hackett, who's a close friend, in the room, and [passing game coordinator Luke] Getsy. Those are the most important relationships.
"The other one [Gutekunst], you know, I leave space and optimism for growth and change. But, you know, at this point, my focus is just on the football staff and making sure those conversations and communication are right going into the season."
It's always been clear that Rodgers takes issues with how the front office operates. The difference is we usually don't hear franchise quarterbacks make those feeling so open and obvious. Rodgers is different. His play provides a Vibranium shield to any retaliation, and an acceptance that his future is likely elsewhere (eventually) allows clear analysis and expression of desires.
Rodgers' issues with the front office aside, the one goal remains: win another Super Bowl in Green Bay.
"I really do love it," he said. "Otherwise, I wouldn't have come back. I've got so many other things that I love and I'm passionate about. I love competing. I love practice, still. I've had a really good camp. Last year I felt like I started a little slow and then something clicked. I've actually had a really good camp here. I feel good about where I'm at."
Where he's at is Green Bay. The rest of the future can be discussed after the Packers' season ends in January ... or February.